Egypt: EIPR calls on Sisi to abolish unfair verdicts against Aboul Fotouh, Al Qassas and Al-Sharqaw

In a recent report, EIPR has documented the unfair trial and lack of evidence in last year’s convictions of Strong Egypt Party President Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, his deputy Mohamed al-Qassas, and former student leader Moaz al-Sharqawi, reported Daarb.

The May 2022 convictions of former presidential candidate and Strong Egypt Party President Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, Aboul Fotouh’s deputy Mohamed al-Qassas, and former student leader Moaz al-Sharqawi followed an unfair trial and were without evidence, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) documented in a new report on 19 January.

EIPR called for the abolition of the lengthy prison sentences issued in Emergency State Security case 1059 of 2021 against 25 defendants, including former presidential candidate and head of the Strong Egypt Party, Abdel-Moneim Aboul Fotouh (15 years), his deputy, Mohammed Al-Qassas (ten years), and former student leader, Moaz al-Sharqawi (ten years).

EIPR represented al-Sharqawi, a former vice president of the Tanta Students Union and member of the Egyptian Students Union, in the trial. He and al-Qassas were each handed 10-year prison sentences, while Aboul-Fotouh received 15 years.

The report documents the details of violations against the three defendants, starting with the formulation of the case, the investigations on which it was based, in addition to violations during the arrest, search and interrogations, the years of prolonged pretrial detention, up to the referral to the exceptional emergency court despite the expiry of the state of emergency in October 2021.

Drawing on its work with the defense team, EIPR painstakingly demonstrates the violations against the trio throughout the trial as well as the absurdity of their convictions.

“A quick perusal of the case file…makes evident a laundry list of legal violations and irregularities, not to mention several logical fallacies,” the report states. “It sends a clear message that citizens can be prosecuted and punished in a framework that threatens their lives and infringes all due process guarantees enshrined in both Egyptian law and international humanitarian law.”

The trial took place in an unfair emergency court even though President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had ended the state of emergency months earlier. Emergency court rulings are unappealable but must be ratified by the president to become final, and al-Sisi has not yet ratified the sentences. EIPR thus urged al-Sisi to strike down the ruling, which it notes “targeted the three activists solely because of their peaceful political or student activism, which is guaranteed under the Egyptian constitution and international law.”

The organization also calls for 71-year-old Aboul-Fotouh to receive urgently needed health care and be transferred to a hospital, for all 25 defendants convicted in the case to receive their legal rights behind bars (including an end to prolonged solitary confinement), and for authorities to open an investigation into the violations committed against the defendants.

The report also recommends opening a serious investigation into the violations committed against defendants in the case, including enforced disappearance, torture to force “confessions,” and medical negligence, as well as holding those responsible for these violations to account; amending the flawed emergency law to ensure that the issuance of non-appealable judgments is suspended and allow defendants to appeal the judgments handed down against them; in addition to the immediate release of all those held in pretrial detention for periods that exceeded the maximum allowed by law, and an end to the practice of “recycling”, by not allowing the same accusations to be brought against the same individuals in different cases, and closing all other cases in which the defendants were “recycled”.